Last night, January 29, 2011, my cousin, Diane, and I went to the Burns Supper sponsored by The 42nd Royal Highlanders. It was from 5:30-10 p.m. and we had a fun filled evening.
* My tartan scarf represents Clan Macpherson and Diane's represents Clan MacAfee.
We arrived at The Trails at 5 o'clock. Upon entering, we signed in, registered for door prizes and were seated. The Pipers were in the center of the room practicing. How fun it was to be surrounded by the music of the bagpipes. Two tapestries hung from a beam in the center of the room. Both with Highland Pipers on them. Another tapestry hung behind the podium with a picture of the thistle. Tables circled around with a path down the middle leading to an opening where there would be dancing later.
The lights were set to a nice soft glow with white lights strung around all of the beams. Blue and green napkins were placed on each table setting; same colors in the 42nd's kilt.
When we started the evening, we had an introduction, a prayer, and then upon standing, The 42nd came out with the color guard. They played our National Anthem, God save the King, and Scot's Wae Hae. We had a prayer and then a lone piper played Amazing Grace.
Red and white wine was placed on every table along with a basket of the Queen's Scones (biscuits).
Now, if you have never had haggis or been to a ceremony, the Haggis is a big deal. The Haggis isn't just brought to your table, it is presented. There is a Piper, the haggis bearer and the trencherman who carried a knife. The procession circled the room for everyone to see, and then went to the front. Mrs. Isobel Stuart Miller took the knife and read a poem about the Haggis then stabbed the Haggis.
During dinner, we were treated to music performed by Travler's Dream.
The first course was Cock-a-Leekie Soup. This is a traditional soup of Scotland and often served at Burn's Suppers. This wonderful broth was thought to have originated in Edinburgh and the Lothians. It contains chicken, leeks, onions, rice, parsley and prunes. This was probably my favorite part of the meal.
The Haggis is the highlight of every Burns' Supper. It is traditionally cooked in the stomach bag of a sheep. Unfortunately, this is banned in the United States. Here, is is cooked in a muslin bag or a sausage casing. Normally, the contents are oatmeal, sheep's liver and heart, chopped onion, suet, and stock. Neeps, (which are boiled, buttered turnips or Swedes) are the traditional accompaniment. Now, I can say that when I saw the haggis, it wasn't what I expected to see. It looked like a meatloaf, but a little more grey in color. I really liked it. I didn't care much for the turnips, but I did like the Haggis. I am wondering though, how much of a difference between the American version and the Scottish version.
Next, we were brought lamb, mint sauce, and Rumbledethumps. I have never had lamb before, but I enjoyed it. The mint sauce looked like green jelly and I have to say that the lamb dipped in it was very good! Rumbedethumps is from the borders of Scotland is made from mashed potatoes, cabbage, chopped onions, and grated cheese.
Last, but not least, was Dunvegan Trifle. This, I can tell you, was something I could have had seconds on. It reminded me of strawberry shortcake and I was in heaven!
Mrs. Miller, who was born and raised in Glasgow, teaches Scottish dancing here. Her group, The Whole Nine Yards, performed the Jubilee Jig. Then they invited everyone to come out and perform the Friendship Waltz.
After dinner, the entertainment began again with the Highland fling. A lone piper came out with two men from the 42nd who danced for us. They were very good. The poem, Immortal memory, was read and then we had a toast to the lassies and a reply from the lassies. Very funny!!!
We ended the evening by getting into a circle and holding hands while we sang Auld Lang Syne.
This is an event that I will be attending again. I loved being able to absorb myself in the Scottish traditions. Every thing was wonderful and I want to thank The 42nd Royal Highlanders for putting on such an exciting event.
For more information on The 42nd Royal Highlanders Regiment, please visit their web site at http://www.42ndrhr.org/. or you can visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/42ndRHR.
So... Here's what I want to know from you all. What is your food weakness? The naughty food you love to eat.
Remember, all you have to do is comment. And if you want to check out the workshop, here is the link.
- Rebecca Lynn
Well, the comments have been tallied, the Randomizer has been consulted, and the winner of Keena Kincaid's "Dirty Little Secrets of Character Development" class is:
Congratulations, Summer. And if you didn't win, but still want to take this awesome class, here's the link to register. Better hurry, it starts on Tuesday!
Thanks to all who entered. And thanks to the New Kids for letting me post all over their stuff for the day.
~ Rebecca Lynn
This week my co-workers and I held a little blast-from-the-past luncheon and time warped into the 80's. We dug out our favorite CDs and (gasp) cassette tapes featuring Bon Jovi, New Kids on the Block, Devo, Air Supply, Wham!, Robert Palmer, and some one-hit wonders. We shared old photographs of those stylin' days and laughed until tears poured from our eyes. If you grew up in the 80's then you know it was the best decade EVER! The best music, the best TV shows, the best movies in spite of the fashion faux pas such as line-backer shoulder pads, jelly shoes, neon socks and mullets.
Never a Viking's captive.
Spirited across an icy sea, lovely and dauntless Lady Brenna Carmarham vowed vengeance on her Viking abductors. Slavery was the fate of women captured on raids, but when she faced the man who was now her master, she swore she would never be owned.
Forever a viking's love
Yet Garrick Haardrad, the proud and powerful son of the Viking chieftain, claimed her with a primitive abandon that left her breathless. And between them built a passion that ignited the long cold nights... until a rival Norseman challenged the bond desire had forged --and only love could bind forever!"
What is the first romance novel that you remember reading and how long ago was it?
it's KRISTAL kLEEr
Emotional conflict should be broken down into two subcategories - “external” and “internal”. A good book needs a little of both - but don’t count on it. Some genres such as Women’s Fiction focus more on the heroine’s internal conflict and character growth. They often move at a slower pace as the reader peels back layers in search of resolution. Suspense/Thrillers sink the reader deep into external conflict with page turning action that never lets up. We might remain on the edge of our seats as the characters go from one adventurous scene to the next but never know what makes them tick
I’m the kind of reader who prefers a little of both. I especially enjoy Romantic Suspense or Paranormal Suspense because they typically feature characters struggling to build a relationship while battling external forces.
When I first started attending writer’s groups, everyone assumed I knew the three building blocks of good fiction – Goal, Motivation and Conflict. I didn’t. Let me rephrase…I thought I did but I didn’t. I knew I wanted to write; I was pretty sure I had the talent and tenacity to succeed. After spending two years immersed in one workshop after another, I began to realize how ignorant I must have appeared. Ignorance is not a bad word as some people think. It means “without knowledge”. I was ignorant, but eager and willing to be educated.
So for the benefit of those readers who might not have learned the definition of internal and external conflict, allow me to share a little knowledge.
Internal Conflict is the emotional/mental struggles going on within a character. For example, I’ll use a popular movie/book series, “Twilight”. Bella is conflicted about who to choose for her boyfriend, Edward or Jacob. She leans on Jacob and tries to build a relationship with him but an internal argument rages inside. Her heart belongs to Edward. Bella’s not the only one experiencing internal conflict. Edward loves Bella but realizes he’s put her in danger. He shoves aside his own feelings to protect her and is miserable because of it. When Edward and Bella reunite, it is now Jacob with the internal conflict. He loves Bella and feels he can do a better job of protecting her than Edward.
External Conflict is the outside influence opposing the characters. There are many examples in “Twilight” so I’ll just tap into a few. Edward’s family trying to decide if they should accept Bella into their group, the other vampires lust for Bella’s blood, the vampires versus the werewolves, Bella’s abrupt move to live with her father and starting over at a new school. Each one of these applies stress to our character’s lives, which in turn springboards to internal conflict.
To put it simply, conflict is what attracts a reader to a story. Searching for the resolution is what keeps them turning pages. The more pain and anguish suffered by the characters, the sweeter the resolution.
What's one of the best examples of character conflict you’ve read, and how was it resolved?
Just a quick reminder. Wednesday, January 26th, is the final day to enter our Beef Up Your Character Class Contest. What do you have to do? Check out this post to find out.
We spend hours filling out character sheets and plotting our story. We know each character has a job to do in order to propel the story forward to the dramatic end. We plot carefully to make sure every chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, and word does its job. But what about the little things?
A few months ago, I had watched a show on NatGeo where an ancient Greek ship, believed to be 5 B. C., was found in the Black Sea. Over 20 amphorae jars were discovered on the deck. Amazingly, they were very well preserved. If you click on this link, you'll find a few pictures, including fish bones that were discovered in one of the jars, giving you an idea what was being transported.
Containers such as those found at the bottom of the Black Sea, whether made of bronze, onyx, or earthenware, were used for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. You can even see one referenced in Genesis 24:14 when Abraham's servant went in search of a wife for Isaac.
Genesis 23:11-14 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening the time the women go out to draw water.
Then he prayed, "O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too' --let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."
I quite imagine that the jar Rebekah carried upon her head had more of a flat bottom. There are a few illustrations of the different types of jars in Illustrated Dictionary of Bible Manners & Customs edited by A. Van Deursen. Some have pointed, rounded bottoms and some are flat.
So, we know the jars were used in commerce and for carrying water. They were also used in households for storing things like olive oil. By keeping the oil in a cool dark place it kept it from being rancid. The jars specific for olive oil usually had longer, thinner necks, which helped to keep the light from spoiling it. Other jars probably stored grains, and possibly used to hold goat's milk, as well as dyes for weaving and medicines.
Earthenware is just one of the many small things I've added into my story to give it a sense of rich authenticity. This one item can't do it alone, but put together with a myriad of other items and it can sweep you away to another time and place.
The weekend is over and another week begins. I had planned to read all weekend. I am 2/3 through one of the books from my 2011 tbr pile, and wanted to finish it. Alas, the bookmark is on the same page today as it was on Friday. What happened? A chatty daughter who needed to talk about creating a budget, paying bills and saving up a down payment for a car. Then there was my bored and lonely 5 year old granddaughter. My writing often falls by the wayside for similar reasons.
Now, the five year old is easier to work around or to remove from my office if I am deep in the throes of writing, but my daughter isn't so easy. It seems that when she is excited or worried she doesn't take my writing seriously. It annoys me, but then how can a mother not listen to her children when they are willing to talk. So I put aside my needs for theirs. Nothing got written or read this weekend, but I am starting the new week with the hope that my daughter will indeed get her financial life straightened around, and that I will find the happily ever after.
How was your weekend?
Well, here is the top few of my picks for 2011:
Sometimes the safest path is to keep people at a distance…especially men.
Cara’s life has been one nightmare after another. Abused as a child and neglected by her parents, she’s quick to blame herself for every cruel thing that happens to her. And then there’s James, the only man capable of making her forget her misgivings and learn to love again.
James, a young doctor in training, is aware of Cara’s history. He’s determined to break through her barriers and build a life with her…and fails. Cara runs away in an attempt to reinvent herself and James fears he’s lost her for good. When she falls into the hands of a drug dealer and mob boss, life as they know it is about to get a whole lot worse.
Can their love withstand the demons of her past and present?
I found this book on Julia Rachel Barrett's blog. The fact that she opened her heart in such a personal way intrigued me. I'm starting this book today, so I'll let you know my thoughts later.
After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is "like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair," has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him
I'll confess, this is a book club choice for the month of January. This wasn't my pick, but I'll let you know what I think. :)
The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares. Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.
I featured this book on "Did I Notice Your Book" blog post this week. It's fully explained why I chose this book, but long story short, because I loved the cover. :)
Confession time. I took the summer reading lists the English teachers gave us in school and actually read the books. The first book that refused to let me stop reading, even to sleep was Gone with the Wind. Since that summer night I’ve found a lot of story tellers that swept me away with their words.
My son rated my books by the number of times he could say mom when I was reading before I heard him. The Stand (Stephen King) was our ‘five mom’ standard. I loved that book!
So here’s my list (for now…) I’m hoping they’re all rated ‘five moms’!
The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes (Jennie Crusie, Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart). I bought this book because I heard a workshop that the three authors gave about turning the idea of three novellas into a novel. I’m halfway through and am loving every minute of the story.
Deadly Notions (Elizabeth Lynn Casey) Coming out April 4th. The ladies of the Southern Sewing Circle remind me of the friends I’ve gathered from my different jobs, women who are strong yet vulnerable. I’ve loved the three prior books as well. (Full disclosure – these books are written by one of those friends I’ve gathered.)
In addition, I’m looking for some strong women’s fiction in the vein of The Accidental Best Seller (Wendy Wax) or a new story in the Blossom Street series (Debbie Macomber). I’m also looking forward to reading the next installment (In Harms Way) of the Ridley Pearson Walt Fleming thrillers set in Sun Valley Idaho. And starting Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles.
So you can see, I’m all over the map in genre reading. The only thing that links all of these books together is the most important description of all. They all have authors who tell ‘five mom’ stories. And isn’t that what we all want? To be lost in a story?
What books have you read that you would rate with a ‘five mom’ score?
The truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more. ~ Gabriel Zaid
I may not own a thousand books--yet, but no matter how many I have, I'll always have room for more. Whether or not the hubster thinks so. Poor guy. He thought buying me a Nook would keep me from bringing home more paperbacks or hardcovers to stack around the house. The look on his face was priceless when a month later I returned from the RWA Nationals with a trunk-load of print books.
It's no exaggeration to state that my TBR pile is more than 150 high. That's only counting the print books littering my home office. There's more in the spare room. And, of course, there are the electronic ones loaded in my Nook. More are forthcoming. I got a B&N gift card for Christmas. I did the happy dance--the hubster simply hung his head.
Although I don't have a scheduled reading order for 2011, there are some books that I'd like to move from the TBR pile to the HR (have read) pile.
Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I read this book a couple of times each year. I love it. I study it. I want my characters to be as alive as Grace and Julian. If you want to see superb character development in action, you must read this book.
Julian springs to life from the pages of an ancient manuscript that Grace's witchy friend gives her as a birthday present. From full moon to full moon, Julian is determined to fulfill Grace's every sexual fantasy. Only she isn't cooperating. Grace is a sex therapist determined to set Julian free from his tortured past by pushing him out of the bedroom and into the world again.
"Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a 2000 year old curse."
Catch of a Lifetime by Judi Fennell. I haven't read this author yet, but I'm looking forward to this 2010 release about a mermaid and a single dad.
"There was a naked woman on his boat.
Logan Hardington shook his head and rubbed his eyes, but the picture didn't change. Lady Godiva was sprawled over a pillow on his deck, a navy blue blanket draped over the bottom half of the curviest ass he'd seen in a long while."
When I glanced at that opening paragraph , all I could think was "This is gonna be good!"
The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlyn Chase. This is the follow up to Strange Neighbors which I thought was fun, quirky and I heard it touted as the paranormal version of the television series Friends. I can't wait for its February 1st release and it'll be the first book I buy with my Christmas gift card.
Not everything can be pleasure reading. I have to squeeze in some craft books to broaden my knowledge and challenge my writing skills.
Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins. This will be a second go-around for me. I picked this up last year after taking an online writing class and read it before the holidays. There are purple sticky notes galore protruding from my copy. So much information is packed in those 189 pages that a re-read is a must because my brain couldn't absorb it all. What I did glean certainly helped me beef up my characters for my current WIP and because I had a better handle on character development, the plot outline basically wrote itself.
A Writer's Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon. I recently won this in a book giveaway from The Scribe Sisters, who sadly have ended their community blog. I am indebted to them for passing on their writerly wisdoms and of course for sharing with me this book. Thumbing through Ms. Lyon's guide, I found gems such as story mapping, writing methods, synopsis writing, manuscript formatting, narrative hooks, and much more.
Last, but not at all in the least, I hope to revisit some of the classics.
Beowulf. I don't remember the first time I actually read this story, but it seems I've known this story all my life. It's an old epic poem and the name of the poet is lost to antiquity. Some publications maintain the formatting appropriate to a poem. Others have opted to remove the line breaks and present it as prose. I have both versions and prefer the rhythm of the poetic lines. When I read it, I hear the ancient bard's resonating voice telling the heroic saga in the Great Hall after the evening feast.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. I haven't revisited this story since my college days. Strangely I found that a character in a future WIP loves this tale, so I need to refresh my memory of it to understand his affinity for it.
it's KRISTAL kLEEr
But I haven't always written like that.
I took a fantastic characterization class during my MFA program where I learned how to make characters feel real to people. How to make them unique and interesting, with just enough flaws to make them real, but enough redemptive value that people want to root for them. It's not easy. Let me tell you, I used to suck at characters.
Ask my best friend, who also blogs with me here, Kristy. Of course, she'll probably be nicer to me than she should be, but I remember some of my first work, especially when I first started writing novels as a teenager. My characters were all the same, and they weren't very interesting, even taken by themselves. It was the learning and practicing, writing and rewriting, character sketching and interviewing, and practice-practice-practice that made me better today than I used to be. I still have a lot to learn, but I know I'm better.
If you've been told that your characters are flat, unbelievable, uninteresting, lack motivation, or any other critique about your characters, I want you to enter my contest. Because I so completely believe in the combination of education and intention, I'm going to give away one registration to a Characterization workshop. Keena Kincaid is teaching The Dirty Little Secrets of Character Development for the HHRW campus starting on February 1st. (If you don't win the contest, you can always register for this class on your own... it's going to be amazing!)
Anyone who comments on this blog post or any other blog post between now and January 26th, and also follows this blog through Facebook, Blogger, RSS (notify me) or email, will be entered to win a FREE TUITION that I'm paying to Keena's Characterization class. Don't forget to let me know your email address or leave a way to contact you, in case you win. Woo-to-the-Hoo!!
TBR. To Be Read. Almost everyone I know has a list of titles they want to read. A vast majority are new for 2011 - either the next release in a series or an upcoming work by an author they follow. I admire people who have a TBR list. Because I don't.
So I made a "short list", excluding releases for 2011. I'm sure new titles will garner my attention as the year progresses but to be honest, at this time I don't even know who's releasing what, or when.
1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I have friends who swear this book is the Godsource of true romance. I suppose I should read it if for no other reason than to "oooooh" and "aaaaah" like everyone else when Ms. Gabaldon's name is mentioned. I'm not worthy to be included among her legion of fans (since I haven't read this highly recommended title) but that's never stopped me before.
2. Excuses Begone by Dr. Wayne Dyer
No one said my TBR list had to be strictly romance genre titles. I used to own every book, CD, DVD, cassette (oops, aging myself with that term) authored by Dr. Dyer. I've yet to read Excuses Begone. As I get older, my creativity in concocting excuses for why I have no time to write has developed into a remarkable talent. This book might help me apply that creativity to my writing instead of self sabotaging procrastination.
3. Love Writing By Virna DePaul and Tawny Weber
This is a new title about writing genre fiction geared toward the romance market. It's almost a new release, having pubbed in November of 2010. But if you had asked me in January of 2010 if I wanted to read it, I wouldn't have known about it. Some books just catch my eye after their release. This is one of them.
4. Harlequin Intrigue by various authors
I enjoy romantic suspense, especially category, because I can finish one during a long bath. Ok, so maybe I have to add hot water twice and ask my husband to refill my wine glass once, but they're the perfect length for short spurts of reading time I carve out of a busy week. I mean, I gotta bathe anyway so why not kill two birds with one stone? The wine helps me relax so I can focus on the absorbing tales. Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Anyway, I prefer to think of it as multi-tasking.
That's my list. Short, achievable, realistic. Is this all the books I'll read during 2011? Of course not. As I said, I'm spontaneous. I've been known to come home from shopping with three or four new books. I just don't know the titles til I get there.
What if they hated it? What if they didn't get it? What if . . . they didn't appreciate my hard work? How could I hand my baby to them fearing they'd think it was . . . ugly?
I had a choice to make, send my work for submission as is or send it to my critique partners. As nervous as it made me, I chose to send it to my cps. If by chance I had a few stupid mistakes, or even some not so stupid mistakes, I'd rather my cps break it to me.
And boy am I glad I did. There was nothing mega or too glaring, but there were a few duplicated duplicated words. And a few words that shouldn't have been their but there. I think my favorite error was a word that should have been it, but was fit.
What I found interesting was while I was waiting for my cps feedback I offered to look at a friend's first chapter. Now that wasn't the interesting part. What was interesting was her enthusiasm to share her baby. I remember having that same kind excitement with my first manuscript. I also remember the huge disappointment when I had received my very first critiques. And I took those feelings into consideration when I told her about the problem areas. I did not want to burst her bubble so I tried to soften the blow, which is kind of difficult when the communication is done on the computer. Fortunately, for us we live in the same town and were able to talk on the phone. We've also made a date for a face-to-face critique.
While I was talking to her I kept remembering how I felt when I heard, "You've got a great story, but . . ." All I heard were the buts. I didn't hear the befores or the afters, only the buts, which indicated a negative reaction in my brain. And I didn't want her to hear the negative. I wanted her to focus on the positive and know that the glaring errors were fixable. The difference between us is experience. I've been writing off and on for years and seriously for four. She's been writing less than a year.
I no longer truly dread sending any of my work to my critique partners, because I trust them, even more I trust myself. Besides, I really need them. I often miss the grammar train. I also tend to write discombobulated sentences (I blame it on my dyslexic thinking). One of my cps excels in grammar, another is a historical guru when it comes to word usage and clothing, and the third knows exactly how to untwist my discombobulation. ;) And all three of them leave my voice alone. Above all I value their friendship.
What do I bring to the table? I haven't quite figured that out. But I'm sure I'm good for something.
I'm getting ready to send off my latest submission, and I know it could be months before I hear anything, but I wanted to thank my cps for being the best. They are priceless!
Do you have critique partners? Have you become friends? If you're not a writer have you ever found really good friends through your hobbies?
If I took all the books from them TBR pile and lined them end to end, they would circle the globe 3 or 4 times. Okay, well maybe that's a wee bit of an exaggeration. Currently on my shelves are 30 to 40 Romances that I would like to read, and there are several that came out last year or are coming out this year still on my TBB list. With my hours at work reduced I have been putting more time into reading. So far I have completed 2 books and am on a third. I have been pulling the books off my shelf from left to right, but so far have not prioritized them in any way, but here are a few titles I am looking forward to reading in 2011.
From one of my favorite authors Sabrina Jeffries: A Hellion in Her Bed and The Truth About Lord Stoneville.
By Julia London: A Courtesan's Scandal and The Year of Living Scandalously.
By Suzanne Enoch: The Care and Taming of a Rogue and Rules of Engagement.
By Liz Maverick: Crimson & Steam.
And a couple of contemporary romances: Talk of the Town by Karen Hawkins and True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.
There are, of course, too many to list here, but I hope you read and enjoy some of the books I look forward to reading in 2011.
What's on your TBR pile?
2010 has come and gone, but somethings last forever. A good book is one of those things. What makes a book a "favorite" for me are these simple qualities:
1) I can't put it down. I LOVE to read. I read while I cook, ride in the car, lie in bed, etc., and if the book is really good, I am reading it all day long if I have the chance. I just can't put it down.
2)Do the characters or story line cross my mind? If I am standing in the grocery line and I start to think about the characters, or if I am mowing the yard and I am replaying the scenes, then I have found a great read!
3)Will I read it more than once? Now, I have read good books and read them only once. But for me, if I can read it more than once, than I have found a great book. The books I will list below are books I have read several times. I hope you too, will agree with me. You will notice my favorite genre in this list...LOL!
(I apologize, I had a picture of the book, but it was lost somewhere in translation.)
Scarred by betrayal, Will Rollo lives to defend the monarchy against traitors...and he rides alone. The last thing he needs to contend with is a love-struck woman. So when Felicity appears as if by magic, Rollo's determined to crush any tender feelings she may stir within him. But as passion binds then in a dark era, where witchcraft is punishable by death, Rollo must make a daring choice: send Felicity back to her own time, or endanger both their lives...
This is my favorite out of all of Veronica's books, because she made me fall in love with Rollo. He was a man with a vulnerable side that I couldn't get enough of.
Visit Veronica at http://www.veronicawolff.com/. to see more of her books.
My next favorite is two series by the same author. Karen Marie Moning is a wonderful writer! Her "FEVER" series and "HIGHLANDER" series are exceptional books. The last of the Fever books, SHADOWFEVER, will be released in 2 days and has been recently optioned by Twentieth Century Fox. You may go to http://www.karenmoning.com/. to find the list of her books. In the Highlander series, each book stands alone, though they do have references in them to other books. The Fever series chronicles Mackayla Lane's journey to Dublin to find the truth about her sister's murder. But life isn't what she expected and neither are the people. She will seek the truth and find herself in the process. Secrets are revealed and love tested. This is a series you won't want to put down!
The goddess Morrigan commissions a group of six to fight the demon Lilith and her army of vampires.
This is called "The Circle Trilogy" and as you read through the books, it is about the gathering of these six warriors, how they must learn to trust one another, and the fight of good vs. evil. Each book starts with a prologue of an Old Man telling preparing to tell the tale to children. The story keeps you intrigued, the characters grab your heart and the ending makes you say, "Oh my Gosh!" I love it when an ending surprises the heck out of me.
The other trilogy I love is also by Nora Roberts and it is called the "Sign of Seven Trilogy."Every seven years, on the seventh day of the seventh month, strange things happen.
It began when three young boys- Caleb, Fox, and Gage- went on a camping trip to the Pagan Stone. And twenty-one years later, it will end in a showdown between evil and the boys who have become men-and the women who love them.
I enjoyed reading this series and watching the boys grow to manhood, their struggles with the things of the past and and coming to terms with those struggles in order to grasp love and hold tightly to it, for if they don't have love and friendship, there isn't an ice cube's chance in hell they'll survive.
Visit Nora at http://www.noraroberts.com/.
So I started reviewing books, because let's face it, it's expensive to read a lot, when you're buying your own books. I started with one, then moved to two and then three, and now I am four different book reviewers. I love it, and it adds to my numbers of books read in a year. I'm close to one a day. That's a good number for me.
On the other hand, not every book I've reviewed has been stellar. Most of them have at least been solid, I'm happy to report, but many of them have been not great, and some have been downright bad. I've even refused to review a couple of them because I couldn't find anything positive to say about them. In the book "Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.)", Francine Prose talks about the importance of learning from what you read.
I read, to use Prose's word, "omnivorously." I've always loved to read like this. I devour books of all kinds, and love it. But I haven't always been discerning. I want to read everything. So I rarely pay attention to reviews or opinions (which makes it ironic that I review books and expect others to read my reviews, I guess). If a book sounds interesting, I read it. If someone recommends it to me, I read it. If I run across a book by a friend or someone I know or an author I love, I read it.
But if we can assume (which Prose does and which I think, it's safe to assume) that we learn from everything we read, then writers especially need to be careful of what they read. When I was in my MFA program, my professors harped on this, and it's possible they were right. But I haven't really thought about it in years. I need to be careful of what I read.
When I read Prose's discussion of her favorite writers, I was convicted about my reading habits. She lists her favorite authors and says, "They are the teachers to whom I go, the authorities I consult, the models that still help to inspire me with the energy and courage it takes to sit down at a desk each day and resume the process of learning, anew, to write." I had to pause and think about my own reading.
I have several favorite authors, among them are a few classics and several contemporaries. Most of them write romance, because that's what I love to read (and write). But it's a rare experience when I get a chance to just read for pleasure, although I do make a point to do it whenever I can. And I do enjoy many of the books I review. But the ones I don't enjoy... am I still learning from them? I think I might be. Maybe it's time for me to take a hiatus from some of my responsibilities and get back to what's really important. The quality of my writing.
Here are some of my favorite authors. TS Eliot, Francesca Marciano, CS Lewis, Gail Godwin, Karen Hawkins, Jane Austen, Elin Hilderbrand, Jennifer Crusie, Jaci Burton, David Whyte. They will become the teachers to whom I go. The authorities I consult. The models that still help to inspire me with the energy and courage it takes to sit down at a desk each day and resume the process of learning, anew, to write, as Prose says. The teachers I trust, the authorities I consult, the models that inspire me.
What about you? Who are the teachers you trust, the authorities you consult, the models that inspire you to write every day?
I read over 40 books last year, but when Becca asked me to consider a top pick for 2010 I was stumped. You’d think picking a favorite would be a breeze. After all, doesn't everyone have an alert system in their mind that blinks the words “FAVORITE! FAVORITE!” when you've got a winner? Like the flashing neon signs in Vegas whenever someone hits the jackpot at the slot machines?
Well, the batteries in my alert system must've gone kaput. So much had happened that I was hard pressed to even remember what I'd read. Since my actual books are scattered willy-nilly around my home, I peeked at my Goodreads site and clicked on the read-in-2010 bookshelf. Perusing the book cover icons, it was easy to identify those that wrapped me with warm fuzzies. One in particular was cozier than the rest.
I had the privilege to review this for The Season and later published the post on my blog, it's KRISTAL kLEEr.
Here's some of what I had to say:
One born of land. One born of the sea.
Two hearts when torn asunder,
only a Kraken can mend.
Jenny Jameson was twelve when she met Perrin, the mer-boy with silver hair and ice blue eyes. She only knew him a few minutes before his father dragged him back to sea. Yet in those precious moments her heart had fastened onto Perrin and his heart held steadfast to her.
She searched for him daily, in that particular spot of beach. Though, she never saw him there again, she met him every night in her dreams. When the dreams abruptly stopped, Jenny looked for Perrin. But he wasn’t on the beach, or any other place in the world she searched. Still, she kept looking.
Perrin never expected to find the red-haired girl with whom he’d shared his childhood dreams. He held on to the memories, for they gave him hope. Hope he desperately needed after being stripped of his identity and exiled from the sea. He’d resigned himself to a meager existence on land, waiting for his time to die.
One day the dolphins at the aquarium where Perrin worked shared a vision. A vision of impending doom and his red-haired girl. In that moment, Perrin knew that he must do everything in his power to find her. To save her.
In the Dark of Dreams begins with a telling of Jenny and Perrin's first meeting. Written in faery tale fashion,the prologue reads likes a children's bedtime story. It’s mesmerizing in its simplicity and absolute magick. Through out the story, the author uses vivid details to describe life under the sea and above it. Her characters as beautiful as they are terrifying.
I can't. But what I can do is tell you about one of the best I read from the RomanticSuspense genre. I'm choosing "The Third Secret" by Tara Taylor Quinn because it's part of an incredible series called The Chapman Files. Each title is just as good as the last.
I especially enjoy this series because, as a writer, I am in complete awe of how easily Ms. Quinn floats between 1st and 3rd person POV. And she does it well! She also demonstrates the ability to weave several concurring stories together and never lose the reader.
"The Third Secret" continues the journey of psychologist Kelly Chapman and her personal struggles as a new parent to a troubled teenager. Kelly's scenes are told in first person. We learn she has recently gained custody of a fourteen year old girl who was used as a drug mule and sexually exploited by one of the town's model citizens.
At the same time, Kelly's good friend, defense attorney Erin Morgan, seeks advice when she takes on a client with a secretive past. Rick Thomas has been accused of murder. Instinctively, she believes he's innocent of the charges but new evidence seems to pile up against him. The more deeply she is drawn into his life, the more Erin worries she is allowing a physical attraction to override her logic. She's never compromised professional ethics before - but she's never had a client like Rick Thomas.
Rick is hiding something - a secret life as a drug dealer, gun smuggler, and international spy. Using the alias Tom Watkins, Rick has spent two decades working undercover for a covert special ops team. He wants to retire but someone has discovered his true identity and they're coming after him.
As Kelly, Erin and Rick's lives intertwine, I found myself savoring each scene like a sip of fine wine while looking forward to the next. Ms. Quinn has developed her characters with depth and realism, using sensory details to draw the reader in. Each character has a fascinating secondary story that affects the way they deal with the dangerous elements around them.
Tara Taylor Quinn has crafted a dynamic series with The Chapman Files. It's light on actual sex, long on suspense and has just the right amount of sexual tension to satisfy romance readers.
If you read this title, you'll rush out to buy the others.
First of all, there's a book called "Reading like a Writer" by Francine Prose that, if you haven't read yet, I highly recommend you get. One of the things I learned this year is that there are certain times when I need to learn to read like a writer, and certain times when it's okay to just read for fun.
One of the books that taught me the importance of reading like a writer is the book that I'm highlighting today. My favorite book of 2010. Drumroll....
Her Reluctant Bodyguard by Jennette Green
This book is in the inspirational genre, but it's what is now becoming known as Edgy Christian Fiction. It's Christian fiction that doesn't pull punches with the reality of love and life, sex and death, intimacy, romance, reality. But it also doesn't lose the Christian message. Because those of us who are Christians, who have been Christians for awhile, we know that life is life, no matter what religion you are. I don't suddenly stop feeling below the waist because I "get saved" or decide to commit my life to Christ. I also don't stop using my brain.
Jennette Green does an absolutely masterful job of showing a Christian woman who's a real person. Not some saccharine, preachy, goody-two-shoes. The heroine (and hero) have real struggles, and they're not afraid to address them in the narrative. They feel more like real people than any Christian novel I've ever read, and their love story is inspiring and exciting.
Not only that, but the hero is shorter than the heroine!! And it's still hot!! I adore this book. For its humor, for its complexity, for its honesty, for its depth. Jennette Green is a fantastic writer with a bright future ahead of her, and if there's one thing I hope to be able to do (besides write my own books), it's getting people to read Her Reluctant Bodyguard. Understand, of course, if you're not a Christian, that this is a book about Christian people, but it's no different than any other romance novel. The primary piece of this book that is so intriguing is the relationship between the H/H. It's a poignant, emotive story that I have recommended to hundreds of people, and every single one has come back and said, yes! I love this book, too.
So if you do read it, please come back and let me know that you read it. I want to share my love of HRB with everyone, but I most enjoy hearing when other people love it!
In 2010, reading wasn't my highest priority, but I did managed to get a couple dozen books read. My reading list consists of books about improving my writing, Romances, and research material. Two books from the writing improvement category that I would recommend are Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, and Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon. Can you tell that one of my priorities for 2010 was manuscript revision? Both books contain some useful techniques for revising and polishing your writing.
Romance in 2010 included reading Sabrina Jeffries' School of Heiresses Series and Karen Hawkins' MacLean Series. Reading Karen Hawkins makes me wonder why this writing stuff seems to be so hard. Her writing seems so simple and effortless, and yet she weaves a good story. Sabrina Jeffries's writing is more complicated, and I found myself impatient at times, but my favorite romance book of the year was Don't Bargain with the Devil by Sabrina Jeffries. It's a fun adventure with a sexy Spanish hero.
My reading in the research area was for personal use. I read about growing and canning fruits and vegetables, and crafting artisan breads. In 2010 I became interested in cooking and eating foods with ingredients that didn't come from a chemistry lab. With less time to cook and less fresh produce to buy I've fallen back on old habits, but come spring I'll have a garden planted, and come fall I will have lots of homemade salsa, pickles and preserves. My favorite of these books is Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.
Check out some of these books. I hope you find to be good reads. What were your favorite reads of 2010?
- ► 2012 (84)
- Robert Burns' Supper
- Free Food Writing Workshop
- Character Class Contest WINNER
- Blast from the Past
- Conflicting Stories
- Last Day for Contest
- The Little Things
- It's Another Monday
- TBR -2011
- TBR - 2011 - Or the books I found when I moved
- Kristal's TBR 2011
- Beef Up Your Characters: CONTEST
- I Made The Short List!
- Priceless Critique Partners
- 2011 Reading List
- My favorite books
- Quantity or Quality
- Kristal's Choice: Best Read 2010
- There Can Be Only One...
- My Top Pick
- Best Reads of 2010
- Guest Post: Stephanie Draven
- Resolutions Doomed to Fail
- Goals - Love them!!!!
- 2011: The Year of Completion
- Goals and the Power of Intention
- Ooops, I did it again
- New Year, Old Goals
- Guest Author: Kris Tualla and Why Norway is the Ne...
- My New Year's Resolution!
- ▼ Jan (30)
- ► 2010 (333)
Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
Friday: Food Network Shows
Friday: Food Shows on TV
Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs